When the Centre for Advanced Textiles (CAT) at the Glasgow School of Art needed a new source of technical support, word-of-mouth led the team to Quality Print Services Ltd (QPS). Four years later, CAT says its relationship with QPS has helped it to maintain the valuable textile printing service it provides to students, graduates and successful design houses.
Established in 2000, CATdigital is the commercial arm of CAT, creating customised and bespoke printed fabrics for the fashion and interior design markets. Using a pair of seven-year-old Stork Sapphire digital inkjet printers, CATdigital works with current Glasgow School of Art students, the college's graduates and established designers at global names like Topshop and ASOS.
Its services are recommended by design courses across the globe. Orders arrive from the Glasgow campus to Australia, from remote Scottish islands to the most northerly location reached by DHL: a Norwegian address within the Arctic Circle. "We're a resource for students and graduates, an incubator for advice and facilities," explains Alan Shaw, Industry Coordinator at CAT.
CATdigital prints on over 40 different types of natural fabric in lengths up to 100 metres and has recently invested in new steaming and washing equipment for its finishing department. "There's no point being able to print 100 metres of fabric if you can't finish it," notes Shaw. However, as a design-focused enterprise it also proudly offers design samples as short as half a metre. "Larger companies wouldn't take on such short-run work, it would waste their time. The industry has grown and technology has moved on but people still need half-metres printed."
The CAT stable also encompasses Classic Textiles, a digital printing house specialising in recreating the 20th century's most iconic textile designs, including the exclusive reproduction of the 'Calyx' design by Lucienne Day.
While the majority of the day-to-day machinery maintenance is handled in-house, CAT gains from the efficiency benefits of bringing in a dedicated engineer for less frequent issues such as replacing pumps or dealing with dropped heads. The business sought a new technical support supplier for this work around four years ago when its OEM service was withdrawn. After trying services offered by other companies and finding them unsatisfactory, word-of-mouth recommendations led it to QPS.
"There are certain things that only need doing every six months or so and since QPS does these on a daily basis it makes sense for them to handle it," Shaw comments. "We've been really happy with QPS since we first got in touch with them around four years ago. We have a great relationship with the team, especially our regular contact Paul King – he's an excellent engineer."
CAT's success lies in its high level of customer service born of the traditional design backgrounds of each of the print room staff. "We don't just receive a file and print it; we can tell you what's wrong if something does go wrong and can give help to those who need it," Shaw states. However, the organisation's academic roots and on-campus home do not mean CAT can rest on its business laurels. "We are a commercial enterprise and we need commercial back-up. QPS delivers great service we can rely on."
Chris Bailey, QPS Director, comments: "We travel all over the country to meet the service needs of our customers and are delighted to have been giving support to CAT up in Glasgow for the last four years. We're always happy to help customers out in an emergency situation, but it's great to maintain regular contact with businesses like CAT and make sure their equipment continues to run well after several years' use."
CAT's business ambitions continue into 2014, with plans to upgrade to a new textile printer to accompany its finishing kit investment. QPS says it is looking forward to keeping the new machines running well into the future.
QPS's technical support for the UK market accompanies its role as a leading supplier of Nazdar alternative wide-format inks, new and reconditioned wide-format printers from top brands, Neolt laminators and printers, RIP software and media from Ilford BioMedia, Phototex and Hydrosol. QPS has also been appointed an Authorised Roland Dealer for dye-sublimation applications.
For more information on QPS, please visit www.qualityprintservices.com
[Image caption: 'Rafmanpeckham fullroom'. Credit: American Medium as the producers. The Photo was taken Vartivar Jaklian.]